But, remember this: He is younger than Mark Appel, Andrew Knapp and Ben Lively.
He's younger than Tommy Joseph, Vincent Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff.
He's younger than Joc Pederson and Oscar Tavares.
So the fact he didn't break out in 2016 isn't something people should be worked up about.
This is the third in a series of previews on the 2017 season. Most recently, we looked at expected Opening Day starter Jeremy Hellickson.
The Phillies have expected a lot from Franco over the years. He had his first full season last year, playing in 152 games. He finished the year hitting .255/.307/.427. Those numbers are significant drops from his numbers from a half season in 2016. He did launch 25 home runs and drive in 88 runs.
It's safe to say no one expects Franco to win an MVP, but he should improve on those numbers.
What Franco must improveKnowing the strike zone is incredibly important. Everyone knows that. The fewer times you swing outside the zone, the more likely you are to make solid contact. The more likely you make solid contact, the more likely you get on base. If you lay off pitches outside the zone you don't get yourself out.
This is where Franco has to improve.
Franco still has to master this aspect of the game. He took a small step backward last year, going from 26 walks in 80 games to 40 walks in 152 games. If Franco's approach can get a bit better, and he ends up with 55-60 walks on the year, his numbers in other areas will definitely improve. He'll hit more home runs, which will, in turn, lead to more free passes.
Franco will strike out, but he's been pretty consistent during his career, whiffing about 100-110 times per every 160 games. That's something you can live with in the middle of your order.
It will be interesting to see how Franco works with Matt Stairs, who is getting a ton of press early in Spring Training for having an affect on the players.
Is Franco A Building Block for the Future?When he arrived on scene, I thought Franco could be a multiple-time All Star. I'm not sure that's in his future, but it won't shock me if it is.
This year, his second full season, will let us know how important he is to the future of the franchise. It's hard to imagine him not being on the roster in two or three years. But if he puts up solid, improved numbers this year - say a .265/.325/.465 slash line - he will have cemented himself as a building block for the future. Anything better than that and the franchise might start looking at buying out some of his arbitration years.